Saturday, January 02, 2016

Race for the White House Volume 53

Happy 2016!

This sort of seems like a make or break year for America politically, but I bet that has been said before many times throughout our history. I am just going to have to hope that things will turn out as intended, whatever they may be.

As I believed at the beginning of last year, as long as Mitt Romney was not running, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush was the best candidate to be President of the United States. I still believe that as 2016 begins, still believe he could win a general election, and I still support him. However, I am in the vast minority on that, to say the least, if all polls are to be believed, so I may not wind up getting my first choice nominated (although there is always a chance for Mitt at a Brokered Convention...) I also said at the beginning of 2015 that the GOP would have more than one good option running. I clearly feel that about John Kasich and Marco Rubio. Kasich's chances are worse than Jeb's though, so in less than two months, I may very well be in the "Marco or Bust" camp. As anyone who has read this over the past several months knows, my fear is that my party does something completely irrational and picks Donald Trump or Ted Cruz. We would lose to the Democrats either way. I could at least vote for Cruz though in November. Trump will never have my support in any way. Neither will Hillary Clinton either, of course.

As the calendar has now changed to the official Election Year, and the Invisible Primary shifts to month-long runoff until the first actual votes are cast, there was not too much that transpired as the Holiday Season winded down. George Pataki ended his campaign, joining other successful Governors before him. While Pataki never really had a chance this cycle, the whole concept of Governors seems to have fallen out of favor in the Republican Party which one valued executive experience and accomplishments. That is a big part of the reason why Kasich, Bush, and Chris Christie have struggled, and while other Governors like Scott Walker, Rick Perry, and Bobby Jindal are already long gone. Jim Gilmore is technically still a candidate, but not really, and former Governor Mike Huckabee is running more on ideological purity than his record in Arkansas. Of course, on the other side, the Governorship of Martin O'Malley, who failed to qualify for the Ohio primary ballot, really has not done much for him either.

So, a month from today, we will probably know who won the February 1 Iowa Caucuses. My guess is that Hillary Clinton will beat out Bernie Sanders for the Democrats and that Ted Cruz will finish in front of Donald Trump on the Republican side. New Hampshire voters will immediately start plotting to to render the Iowa results and "momentum" obsolete. For Democrats, that might mean a big win for Sanders in the Granite State, but that will just be delaying the inevitable. For Republicans, a battle will be underway to emerge as the "mainstream" alternative to Cruz and Trump, whether one or both of them are in the game after New Hampshire. That will probably involve a candidate coming in at least third in either Iowa or New Hampshire. Ben Carson's campaign, which did see some top level resignations this past week continues to appear headed downward, so there will be an opportunity, after New Hampshire at least, for a Rubio, whom many think party regulars will gravitate towards, a Christie, who is focusing almost solely on New Hampshire, with the support of a big activist newspaper, or Bush who still has the money and the SuperPAC. The Bush campaign, it was reported this past week, has cancelled advertising in Iowa and South Carolina, and will instead plan to pour more resources on the ground game in the early states, especially New Hampshire. Since television ads have done nothing to improve Bush's standings in the polls, this new tactic cannot hurt.

When winter turns to spring, there will either already be a presumptive GOP nominee, or a brutal two person race may be underway that could last into the summer. For political junkies, the possibilities are fascinating. For Democrats, saddled with a vulnerable presumptive nominee of their own, who does not seem to generate any real enthusiasm, they can hope that the chaos of 2015 will continue to reign in 2016's GOP. For people like me, we can only hope that Republicans and conservatives, will start to take all of this more seriously.

In the closing days of the 2012 general election, Barack Obama implored his partisans to vote out of "revenge", while Mitt Romney asked Americans to vote out of "love of country." We know which side won that contest and nearly four years later, a whole lot of anti-Obama Americans seem to have bought heavily into the "revenge" factor and it's vehicle of Donald Trump. That message is wrong, no matter who is preaching it, and hopefully 2016 will be a year when love of country prevails in the end.


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